Skilled Pollinators

Office, or colleges, Pollinators are those who bring fresh new ideas to you, much like how bees bring pollen from other plants to yours. They are some of your best assets in maintaining the cycle of improvement and keeping up with “nature”, the technology and business ecosystems that exist outside your office.
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Your readily available, abundantly willing, most powerful personnel

Nature is interesting. It is vast, multifarious, cruel, and keeps reminding us that a single entity will not survive for long without collaboration with others. It can be a mate, a symbiotic interaction or even a parasite to name a few codependent dynamics. But, pollination, which is crucial, is mostly taken for granted.

Our technology ecosystem is similar in some properties. Cruel, for sure. Just remember the fate of My Space, which was replaced by Facebook. Multifarious, certainly. The number of apps and gadgets, as well as the massive amount of threatware, is staggering. And, more are being developed daily.

Office, or colleges, Pollinators are those who bring fresh new ideas to you, much like how bees bring pollen from other plants to yours. They are some of your best assets in maintaining the cycle of improvement and keeping up with “nature”, the technology and business ecosystems that exist outside your office.

Pollinators can expose you and your team to new solutions. Pollinators can be the initiators of a new project, product or process. They can be your bridge to the new generation of employees, who most likely have different technology interaction characteristics than yours, the reader.

Please note that I am making an assumption that if you have read up to this point, you are most likely older than the Millennial generation.

So, here is the basic toolset to encourage pollinators:

No “No!” enables good “know”

  1. Instead of saying “no”, start with a compliment for bringing up the idea and how you appreciate their engagement.
  2. Ask what the product/process does. Do not say if it is good or bad. Just be curious.
  3. Ask where it can be incorporated into the existing environment. Can it replace something, add to an existing element or even create a new concept? All answers are positive. Do not tell your pollinator where you see it fit.
  4. Ask for some time to think it over, and make sure to circle back with a few questions after a day or two, even if you know the answers.

The processing path and the decision track

  1. When making a decision, regardless of whether you embrace or decline the new idea, make sure to compliment the initiative, acknowledge the effort, and share your reasons for the decision.
  2. At this point, if you have decided to embrace the idea, ask about the financial implications. By separating the acceptance of the idea from the financial burden, you signal that you respect the person and their idea; that way, you can blame the financial hatchet if you choose to reject the proposal. Now, the Pollinator feels appreciated and empowered to provide new input.

Celebrate accomplishments and cherish failures

  1. Keep track of all the ideas, and at least once a year have an Idea Party (aka IP, as a tech joke). I recommend creating whimsical activities to visualize the concepts; for example, Column chart to describe the number of ideas per person where the columns are indicated by Oreo cookies. A cookie per idea, regardless if good or bad.
  2. Not all ideas are great, or even good. I can admit that even I have thought up some clunkers in my life. But, recognize the person, the effort it took and simply explain the flaw in the idea. No mocking, nor making funny remarks. Just state your opinion with an explanation.
  3. Record it. Make sure to add the Pollinators’ ideas to their performance reviews, and always paint them in a positive light.

I understand it sounds like a lot of work, but as it becomes part of the team culture or even the organizational culture, the newly earned skills eventually become habits. The rewards, I hope, will help adapt the organization to the ever-changing tech world, and to harvest the fruits of your Pollinators’ labor. 

Are you a pollinator? Have you tried to be one and how did it go? Are you enabling pollinators where you work? Please share your experiences.

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I write to share my experiences and insights and to encourage knowledge sharing. You are invited to share your thoughts and insights in the comments.

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